The UK’s first Pride Flight took to the skies on 28 June as Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic marked World Pride 2019 and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.
The flight, which departed from Heathrow on Friday, was hosted by an all LGBT+ crew, with celebrity passengers including Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Titus Burgess, AJ Pritchard of Strictly Come Dancing, drag queen Courtney Act and DJ Jodie Harsh.
Speaking after the flight in New York, business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson announced his intention to make the flight a yearly fixture.
“I think there should be one every year. I’ll announce it today, let’s make the Pride Flight an annual event.”
Branson also touched upon the importance of firms embracing diversity in the workplace to drive cultural change from within.
“Some of our best employees are gay, they are fun, outgoing and they care about people. We’ve had a lot of gay people working for Virgin since we started and the company has been all the better as a result.”
Commenting on the commercialisation of Pride, which took place in New York over the weekend, he said: “Those companies, even if they do it as window dressing, are still making a step in the right direction. They will eventually have to act upon their promises and make real changes within. It’s the companies that don’t do anything that must be held to account.”
Asked about his views on the current UK Tory leadership race, Branson said: "We need a prime minister that will embrace everyone – white, black, gay and straight, and makes sure that those values are taught in schools.”
Mark Anderson, global LGBT lead for Virgin Group, added: “Virgin has long been a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, and this year we wanted to do something bigger and better than ever before.
“It’s really important that we continue to recognise our LGBTQ+ staff and customers, but because we’re Virgin, we tend to do it in the most flamboyant way possible.”
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